Propaganda of the Dead: Terrorism and Revolution

by Mark Reilly


About the Book

Propaganda of the Dead

Propaganda of the Dead: Terrorism and Revolution
by Mark Reilly

  • Paperback: 186 pages
  • Atropos Press, 2009
  • ISBN-10: 098199721X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981997216

Propaganda of the Dead: Terrorism and Revolution explores the relationship of terrorism to the concept of revolution and to the propaganda that accompanies it. Spectacular terrorist attacks such as September 11th in the United States cannot be fully understood without an in-depth analysis of the evolution of the intellectual history of terrorism and propaganda and its relationship to the media. Terrorists have made innovative use of the media to spread their propaganda and this symbiotic relationship between terrorism and media is explored.

Terror and revolution have been inextricably linked since the French Revolution. From the nineteenth century until today, terror has evolved from state terrorism, i.e. to save the revolution, to terrorism from below, which uses acts of terrorism as “propaganda of the deed”, violent spectacular events, to kick-start the revolution. Acts of propaganda of the deed generate huge press coverage and a symbiotic relationship develops between terrorists and the media. Spectacular terrorist events that were covered by the media could become international events. Early terrorists “theorists” such as Robespierre, Carlo Pisacane, Abraham Guillén, and Carlos Marighella are analyzed to explore how their actions formed the genesis of the evolving terrorism/media collaboration. Mao and Che’s theories of guerilla warfare and the shift of emphasis from rural to urban guerilla warfare are explored.

After the Second World War, terrorist groups began orchestrating events strictly for their media impact. At the same time, the media assimilated the power from revolutionary events, as exemplified by the failure of May 1968 in France and the subsequent explosion of international terrorist groups.

In 1979, the Islamic revolution in Iran brought to the forefront both the Islamic revolutionary and martyrdom operations. In the 1980s a new from of terrorism arose—suicide terrorism. Two distinct forms appeared: the Irish Republican hunger strikers and the suicide bombers in Lebanon. Suicide terrorism changed the theatricality of terrorism into a new deadly form that of propaganda of the dead.

Finally, an effort is made to understand the attacks of September 11th using the writings of five leading contemporary philosophers and theorists to determine the future of terrorism and what role the media might be expected to play. The thread of terrorist actions over the years, intertwined with increasing media coverage is used to predict what our future may hold as terrorists become their own media generators.